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Camus - ENG00111I

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  • Department: English and Related Literature
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Stephen Minta
  • Credit value: 30 credits
  • Credit level: I
  • Academic year of delivery: 2019-20
    • See module specification for other years: 2018-19

Module summary

A commentator has written: 'Throughout his life as a committed writer, Camus seems repeatedly to have pinned his faith on causes that failed...On the whole he seems to have been on the side of the lost and the losers'. This module seeks to explore some of the assumptions made here about the position of the writer, the posthumous lives of a writer, and the relationship between politics and literature; above all, perhaps, about the still complex and disputed territory of 'commitment'.

Camus was born in Algeria in 1913, in poverty, and became, by turns, one of the most popular writers in France and one of the most scorned, notably by those who had been his political friends and who were transformed, in the post-war period, into his most significant critics. Camus's writing reflects this personal development, from the self-assured view of the evils of Nazism in La Peste (1947) to the troubled self-doubt and insecurity of La Chute (1956) and L'Exil et le royaume (1957). It is reflected, too, in some of the most interesting political writing of the time and in the dialogue between Camus and Sartre, in which many of Europe's tensions, hopes, and failures are fascinatingly reflected.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Spring Term 2019-20 to Summer Term 2019-20

Module aims

To introduce you to the work of one of the most controversial twentieth-century French novelists, through a study of a limited number of his works, read against the background of French and European history from the 1930s to the 1950s.

Module learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate an informed understanding of and engagement with a number of Camus’s novels and selected political writings.
  2. Demonstrate an informed understanding of and engagement with the importance of French politics in the work of Camus, in the period 1936 to 1960, and the history and culture of Algeria in the same period.
  3. Examine key debates and critical contexts for the reception of Camus’s work between 1960 and the present.
  4. Develop arguments and ideas which demonstrate a proficiency in critical thinking, research, and writing skills.

  5. Demonstrate an advanced knowledge of French, and an understanding of some of the key issues at stake in the act of translation.

Module content

Students will need to have taken AS or A-level French. The Department of English will pay for students to attend an LFA French course in the Autumn Term of their 2nd year, if they wish to take this module, although this is not compulsory.


Task Length % of module mark
2,500 word essay
N/A 70
University - closed examination
2 hours 30

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

You will be given the opportunity to hand in a 1000 word formative essay in week 1 of the summer term, as preparation for the week 7 summative essay. Material from this essay may be re-visited in your summative essay and it is therefore an early chance to work through material that might be used in assessed work.

This essay will be submitted in hard copy and your tutor will annotate it and return it two weeks later (usually in your week 3 seminar). Summary feedback will be uploaded to your eVision account.


Task Length % of module mark
2,500 word essay
N/A 70
University - closed examination
2 hours 30

Module feedback

  • You will receive feedback on all assessed work within the University deadline, and will often receive it more quickly. The purpose of feedback is to inform your future work; it is provided in a pedagogical spirit, and the Department also offers you help in learning from your feedback.
  • If you would like to discuss your feedback, please consult your tutor or your supervisor, during their
  • Open Office Hours
  • For more information about the feedback you will receive for your work, see the department's Guide to Assessment


Indicative reading

The primary texts to be studied will be selected from the following works by Camus:

  • plays
    • Caligula;
    • Les Justes;
    • Le Malentendu),
  • novels
    • L’Étranger;
    • La Peste;
    • La Chute)
  • extracts from his philosophical writings
    • Le Mythe de Sisyphe;
    • L’Homme révolté.)
  • his posthumously published, unfinished, biographical novel: Le Premier Homme.

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.